For the full press release:Recordng Industry Withdraws Music Sharing Lawsuit
Lack of Due Process Leads to Mistaken Identity
San Francisco - Seven major record labels last week dismissed charges of
copyright infringement leveled at a 65-year-old educator, artist, and
grandmother from Massachusetts.
Sarah Ward was one of 261 individuals sued by the recording industry for
allegedly sharing copyrighted music using peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing systems.
What was the problem?* The recording industry charged Ward with sharing songs
using the KaZaA filesharing software, but she owns only a Macintosh computer
which cannot run KaZaA.
Ward strongly denied using any filesharing software and explained that she
listens to classical and folk music, not the rock and hip hop music referred to
in the complaint.
The seven record labels sued Ward solely on the basis of "screen shots" from the
KaZaA network and information obtained from a controversial subpoena issued to
Comcast, Ward's Internet service provider, under the provisions of the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).* Comcast did not inform Ward before releasing
her identity to the recording industry, a step that might have allowed her to
clear her name without the need for a lawsuit.
"The Sarah Ward case demonstrates the reckless, frightening nature of the
recording industry's campaign against ordinary Americans," said Electronic
Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legal Director Cindy Cohn.* "These record labels
violated her privacy, sued her for potentially millions of dollars, and forced
her to hire a defense lawyer before finally recognizing that they had no case
"I'm particularly concerned about others who may not have the support I did to
defend myself and clear my name," commented Ward.* "And of course as a
grandmother and teacher, I worry about a world where people don't feel the need
to apologize or make amends when they make a mistake."
"The recording industry will continue to catch - and terrify - innocent people
like Sarah Ward in its dragnet as long as these lawsuits continue," added EFF
Staff Attorney Jason Schultz.* "What we need is a global solution that legalizes
file-sharing, gets artists paid, and halts the recording industry's litigation
Although Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) spokesperson Jonathan
Lamy told Associated Press that the group is targeting only "proven, egregious
offenders," RIAA President Cary Sherman admitted to CNET that the recording
industry makes no attempt to contact informally the targets of the lawsuits
before suing them.